TBWA and NZME give Herald browsers a small taste of ‘unexpected homelessness’

The Salvation Army launched a campaign today dubbed ‘The Unexpected Homeless’ via NZME and TBWA, leaving NZ Herald browsers struggling to find their way back ‘home’.

When nzherald.co.nz browsers click on the news website’s ‘Home’ button, users are taken to an unexpected destination, a home they were not looking for.

Users are offered a chance to ‘help’, which includes signing up or donating to the 14 Hours Homeless events that will be held throughout the country. There is also the choice to ignore the problem and just “continue home”.

“We wanted to play with the preconceived notions of what it is to be homeless in New Zealand. Suddenly finding yourself without a home can happen to all of us, at any time. Thankfully the Salvation Army is there to help,” TBWA executive creative director Christy Peacock says.

“By displacing people from their daily routine and making them struggle to get ‘Home’ we wanted to highlight just how easy it is to find yourself in a similar situation, unexpectedly. The numbers here in New Zealand are huge and the reality is it can be as simple as a missed pay check putting you behind on bills and rent that sets the ball rolling.”

The campaign also serves to challenge the notion that homelessness is a choice by making the point that anyone could be afflicted by this issue. 

A recent University of Otago analysis on the 2013 census showed that one-in-100 New Zealanders, roughly 42,000 people have been living in severe housing deprivation.

“TBWA came to us with this idea and it resonated so strongly with our team we instantly came on board,” NZME executive creative director Tracey Fox says.

The NZ Herald home button has never been used like this before, and was no small ask for the developers as the NZ Herald home page receives over 1.1million impressions on the desktop site alone.

“We’ve never served content like this before but have a creative and adaptable team that were able to quickly pull it together and deliver on the idea.”

TBWA is working with The Salvation Army to change the perception of the homeless and have New Zealanders understand there is a big job to be done for 42,000 people living woefully short on basic amenities.

“The struggles of homelessness are not reserved for those out on the street,” Salvation Army community event manager Rhondda Middleton says. 

“14 Hours Homeless is a chance to build empathy for the one-in-100 Kiwis struggling to find suitable permanent housing and to signal to government that better solutions need to be found. It’s also a chance to raise funds that will drive change in our communities.”

The partnership with NZME has allowed TBWA to create bespoke ideas in order to reach a diverse audience conveying this unexpected message.

In addition to the home button which launches the campaign, Radio spots, PR, unexpected home listings and social media lead outdoor stunts will play out over the coming weeks.

14 Hours Homeless events are on in Auckland (Waitakere), Napier, Wellington and Invercargill on 7 October, and in Palmerston North on 5 October.

Last year’s 14 Hours Homeless events involved over 500 people and raised over $80,000.

Those wanting to help the cause can visit here.

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